When did the laws allow more immigrants?

Immigration Act in effect

On Sunday, the long-controversial skilled immigration law came into force, which the grand coalition had agreed in its government program, but which it had long argued about. No longer just academics should be allowed to come to Germany. Anyone who has completed vocational training should be able to start work if they can present an employment contract. So far, skilled workers have not been allowed to travel permanently - except in a few so-called shortage occupations. According to the new law, German language skills are a prerequisite for immigration; they must be acquired before entering Germany. Temporary entry to the job search is also possible.

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) praised the law and explained: “Our economy urgently needs skilled workers. We have to work together with business, trade unions and politics to ensure that we use and promote all skilled workers potential - both domestic and foreign. «His ministry has therefore developed a comprehensive strategy for the targeted recruitment of skilled workers. Because whether the law will bring the desired increase in workers is an open question. In the opinion of experts, much will depend above all on whether the recognition of foreign professional qualifications becomes a hurdle. In a statement, the Berlin Institute for Population and Development calls it “extremely counterproductive when potential specialists sometimes only get an appointment at the German embassy after months to apply for a visa, and then again for a long time to have their qualifications recognized have to wait".

A long road full of hurdles lies behind the law itself. For a long time, the economy has been looking at so-called highly qualified people abroad. They were welcome immigrants but did not come. That is why the first green card was introduced in 2000 under the red-green federal government of Gerhard Schröder - based on the green card in the USA, but not comparable with it. A mere 15,000 academics entered the country within three years.

So far, politics has always been about balancing recruitment and foreclosure. This was also the case in the Immigration Act of 2005, which anxiously made it clear in the name that its authors were concerned with “controlling and limiting immigration”, although “residence and integration of Union citizens and foreigners” had to be regulated. But this law already allowed permanent settlement - still only for highly qualified people and under strict conditions.

In 2012, the Blue Card was introduced in Germany, with which a corresponding directive of the European Union was implemented. It was similar to the Red-Green Green Card twelve years earlier and was also only valid for highly qualified people, but no longer only in IT professions. Immigration required a demonstrable annual salary of at least 48,400 euros, in the so-called shortage occupations it was 37,752 euros. 22,000 people came to Germany on this ticket. The far greater proportion of foreign skilled workers in Germany, however, still comes from EU countries.

Here, too, the hint of regulation is still noticeable, which is intended to prevent »immigration into the social systems«. Already in the name of the immigration law, the Union added the restriction to skilled workers so that no one would get the idea that they are suddenly advocating immigration that they had previously tried to prevent for years. The SPD opposed this - that is why, for example, what is understood by skilled workers is now being generously defined - so for the first time work experience is also legally recognized. Another example: The so-called priority test in favor of Germans and EU foreigners, thanks to which people from third countries have so far remained the third choice, has been abolished. However, there is still the possibility of reintroducing them in the short term should the labor market deteriorate.

Refugees' “change of lane” to the labor market is now also made easier, even if the Union avoids the term at all possible. A »Arbeitsduldung« is intended to give rejected asylum seekers who live with a Duldung in Germany the chance to obtain a more secure residence permit.

Experts agree that immigration could remedy the labor shortage. The journal "Mediendienst Integration" writes of bottlenecks in around 50 occupations, which it cites the Federal Employment Agency. Nationwide, around 1.4 million workers are wanted - around 900,000 of them skilled workers with a vocational qualification. The federal government expects 25,000 skilled workers per year in the medium term.

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